Although many writers complain about having to work another
job to support their writing, I recognize it as a mixed blessing.
- When writing full time we could probably complete
more writing projects. If we are well-motivated and self-disciplined
enough to use our time wisely, our completed writing
should increase in proportion to the amount of time gained
not working another job.
- However, if you seclude yourself away from the world
hermit-style, where do you find ideas and illustrations?
- While some of my ideas occur while reading, doing
dishes, or watching a movie; other ideas are gleaned
listening to other people’s thoughts, problems,
- Those of us who are NOT hermit-minded, would likely
feel less stimulated to think creatively if our lives
of conversations with other people. We would
need to creatively seek out opportunities for thought-stimulating
which, of course, would cost us some of that "saved" time
from not working a "real" job.
- More importantly, in my
case, where would I practice my Christian witness if
I gave up teaching college classes?
- When teaching in Seattle's Community College
system, almost 75% of my students were from
This presented opportunities to influence
young people from
around the world for Christ - or at least
demonstrate to them that this Christian cares about
as I worked hard
to help them understand course concepts,
happens," helped them catch up assignments
and missed lectures, and graded them fairly
and open gradebook information.
- Now, as I teach at Southwest Minnesota State
University, I continue to consistently receive
feedback ("she works us hard but is a great teacher and cares
about us") - which tells me that my
students notice my actions as a Christian
- even after
they are no longer
in one of my classes.
- In the Bible, I read where the Apostle Paul sometimes
sewed tents to pay his own way in ministry. If Paul
thought there were times when it was appropriate, we
However, we can hope those times do not last many years.
the Bible without Paul's letters!
In my writing:
- I have
moved from 20 years of working full-time and writing
only on Saturday mornings, to teaching part-time
(these last few years) while writing part-time.
- 2. Having had these experiences, I see several things
to be true for me.
When I teach only part-time, my "teaching job" expanded
somewhat to fill in part of that writing time (because
now I have the time to add some finer points on
When I work from home (teaching online classes), my house "screams
at me to be cleaned perfectly" more than when
I first arrive home from teaching in a classroom.
- My flow of ideas has increased dramatically, with notes for
future projects filling many pages - awaiting my
writing time and attention.
- As people discover than I teach part-time, they wrongly assume
I have plenty of free time to help them with their
projects; so I must set boundaries to guard my writing time.
- I now believe that as fidelity to our writing progresses
from 5% to 100% of our available work time, our
writing projects will take over the available time from other jobs. The question,
of course, is: When will it pay the bills?
3. Therefore, until our writing can pay
the bills, I expect there to come a time
- to fulfill
we must be willing to "do without" many
things and work harder at a second job
to meet basic financial
needs if it becomes necessary.
What does this say to you as a fellow writer or speaker?
- First, identify and balance your time according to
your life priorities.
- Second, do as much as you can - when necessary and
appropriate - to provide for yourself.
- Third, be willing to admit it if your writing/speaking
is not paying for itself yet, and seek alternatives
- in good faith!
- Look into scholarships, grants, and writer-in-residence
programs. You must be willing to show these
people what you intend to work on, and regular progress.
- Just as the early church and other patrons of
the arts often supported artists and writers,
consider the possibility - providing you
are honest with them (and don't spoil opportunities
rest of us).
- Search your heart. Are you a self-disciplined
and well-motivated writer who is a good candidate
times to write. Focus on writing during those
Either way, fit writing into your lifestyle and WRITE!